July 1st saw the shutdown of Google Reader, which had become the go-to place to keep lists of RSS feeds, and keep track of where you were up to in their consumption. As a centralised database with an open API, this enabled people to use different RSS reading clients on their different devices and keep them in sync, making moving between them ‘just work’.
The only problem was, Google Reader was the behemoth that crushed all alternative services, and we all came to rely on it, which stifled innovation amongst any competitors.
Now it has shut down, where are we? There has probably been more activity in this space in the last 2 months than we have seen in years. There now seems to be a number of potential replacement services, some of which have tried to make the transition easier for client developers by reproducing the Google Reader API. I’ve latched onto Feedly, as it is well supported, and free (at least for now).
Unfortunately, my favourite RSS reader, Reeder, is not fully updated to use Feedly yet. Although the developer has brought out a new iPhone client that works well, the iPad and Mac clients are going through considerable rewrites, and are not yet ready – which is a shame as I mostly read my feeds on my iPad. This must be a difficult time for small developers trying to cope with this change. Feedly’s own reader iOS app has a bug, and I can’t log in.
I’ve had another look around at RSS reading clients, but the experience has just reinforced why I liked Reeder. In comparison, I find the alternatives have too much in the way of user interface. Reeder does a wonderful job of having a ‘quiet’ interface, and does not distract from the content I am reading. There are no fancy effects or needless options – it just gets out of the way. It’s worth noting here that this is not a result of being basic, in any way. There is a huge amount of thought that goes into making clean and simple interfaces, and Reeder’s developer has clearly focussed on giving us the best reading experience he can.
In the meantime, I am using Mr Reader for the iPad. It’s pretty good, but I am keeping my eye on Reeder’s Twitter feed for an update.